Fate unknown for fashion brand Kirrily Johnston under administration

The administrator for embattled Australian fashion brand Kirrily Johnston says the label’s future is uncertain due to the rocky retail climate.

Administrator Adam Shepard of Sydney-based insolvency company Farnsworth Shepard was appointed by the label yesterday, after brand owner Johnston placed it in voluntary administration.

“We are looking at potential purchasers but given the current climate it is probably unlikely we will find a buyer,” Shepard told SmartCompany this morning.

Shepard was unable to speculate on whether it would be possible to rescue the brand so designer Johnston can retain control and rebuild.

He told SmartCompany it is “too early to say, we will know more after we review records”.

The womenswear label hit financial trouble despite having a stable of around 70 wholesale clients and a department store deal with David Jones. It also operates three own retail stores, two in Sydney and one in Melbourne.

Johnston stated that a culmination of global financial crisis issues, boutique stockists closing, the high Australian dollar, high retail rents and misfortunes with manufacturing had pushed the business to the brink.

“I could have traded on and maybe pulled myself out of this awful situation but I did not want to take the risk and keep raking up debts that I may not be able to repay,” she told News Ltd.

The announcement comes after a tumultuous few years for the Australian fashion industry. In recent months long-established label Lisa Ho was forced to cease trading. Womenswear brand Bettina Liano closed its Australian retail operations due to skyrocketing retail rents, instead opening a US store.

Sydney-based Johnston established her eponymous brand approximately 12 years ago, building it to become a popular fixture on the Australian fashion landscape. It was regularly featured in major Australian fashion week events such as Australian Fashion Week and the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival.

Johnston was unreachable for comment this morning, and the brand’s email and website were not operating.


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